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Communicating for Change…not just for sermons…

16/03/2013 Comments off

Thank you christianaudio.com for the opportunity to review this work, and as always for investing in my spiritual walk.

Communicating for a Change, by Andy Stanley and Lane Jones, Colorado Springs:
Multnomah, 2013. AudioBook narrated by Lloyd James.

When you communicate is it for change or wasting oxygen?  If you could only have one point and confine it to one point could you do it?  What if everything you have been taught about putting together a sermon (discipleship, teaching, public speaking, or just dialoguing with someone) was wrong?  This 2010 book finally made it to audio and bring to life story and application in two parts.  First, a pastor wants to improve his Sunday delivery and he meets a trucker that will change his life.  Second, Andy and Lane outline the principles in application for those who need lists.

I found this audio interesting in that I am not preaching every Sunday, but yet I am dialoging with folks all the time and this really challenged my thinking in this area.  It challenged my desire to fire hose people and instead focus on one point.  Whether it is in engaging in good questions or communicating for change.  This audio enlightened me in thinking that just because I wasn’t preaching, I could benefit from a critique of my communication methods.  I don’t know if I am asked to preach again, if I would put the outline together like this, but it would definitely influence a one point fallen-condition-focus in my next one.  

I felt like for the first part of the book reading the One-Minute Manager, which caused me to rewind and listen multiple times, however I picked up more in the second half of the audiobook as it focused on application. 

The outline of the method being described is:  Determine your goal; pick a point; create a map; internalize the message; engage your audience; find your voice; start all over (Me, We, God, You, We).  I would also add that the next step…implication is going to take some mediation, thinking and asking good questions for the dynamics I have in my life.  For 196-pages of the book, Lloyd James did an excellent narration which was presented in a cohesive and yet appealing manner.  This book although mentioned scripture and had some sprinkled through it was not an exegesis.  The most gracious comment I could share about the work would be that implications were made that pointed to Christ sharing one-point versus bulleted-sermons and handouts.  Would I recommend this book to others?  Maybe.  It is not a MacArthur or Jay Adams work on preaching with a purpose, but it does give novices something to think through before ‘studying’ homiletics. 

525140: Communicating for a Change: Seven Keys to Irresistible  Communication Communicating for a Change: Seven Keys to Irresistible Communication
By Andy Stanley & Lane Jones / Multnomah Publishers, Inc.

Speakers and preachers—follow this instructive parable to keep your message alive and your audience alert! By knowing your destination before you leave (identifying the major premise you want to communicate), using your turn signals (transition ahead!), and employing five other practical points, you’ll be on the road to success—and drive your message home! 176 pages, hardcover from Multnomah.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Dangerous Calling–a highly convicting audiobook review…

10/12/2012 Comments off

I want to give credit to the christianaudio Reviewers Program for the opportunity to review this work.

I remember when God began to draw me to Himself, and there are many ‘turning points’ that I now look back upon as God’s providential hand in my life.  I remember too the ‘dangerous call’ in my own life… 

The year was 1999, “Nothing you could ever do would ever make me love you any less… I forgive you.”  Brokenness.  Men’s groups, and a friend who taught me the ministry of Investing.  That later ‘investment’ was confirmation on a call to ‘leadership’.  I started seminary in 2001.  I changed my major from Christian Counseling to an M.Div. with an emphasis in Pastoral Counseling.  I finished my NANC certification in 2004 during my last trek toward seminary graduation in 2005.  Connie and I were on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ with the Military Ministry while I was finishing out internships at local churches.  Part of graduation was an acceptance of a fulltime position at a local PCA church as Tech Director, Small Groups Pastor, and Biblical Counselor.  In Oct 2007, I resigned from the fulltime position and Connie and I spent time in fasting and prayer and started an Organic Reformed Church in our home.  I also went to work for an system integration company (technology).  Oasis with elders, deacons, and a good trek with 32 participants at its height, lasted three years and it dissolved.  We are in our second year with a Sovereign Grace Church church plant. 

I could have used a resource like Dangerous Calling at ALL points of this short paragraph above.  The introduction introduces this work as Diagnostic Manual for the heart and in Paul’s words;

This is a diagnostic book. It is written to help you take an honest look at yourself in the heart- and life-exposing mirror of the Word of God—to see things that are wrong and need correcting and to help you place yourself once again under the healing and transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

This book is a gentle but firm conversation between pastors, discipler, counselors, followers, ministry leaders and the gospel of Christ Jesus.  From the uncensored personal testimonies of how God had people participating in Paul’s life, to turning points in thinking, this work is now a permanent part of my library of reference materials that warrant revisiting.  Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry is best summarized as YOU getting out of the way so Christ can work. 

Part 1: Examining Pastoral Culture could have also been called, “let’s level the playing field Dangerous Callingand get a few things straight…”  I easily identified with almost every illustration, story, and testimony of pride with my story painted all over it.  Part 2:  The Danger of losing your awe and forgetting who God is, was a pivotal chapter for me.  The exposition of Psalm 145 was much needed and I drank deeply.  Part 3:  The danger of arrival and forgetting who you are, reminds that despite all the knowledge, wisdom and experience, there is still room for improvement and that the Father still loves you despite your sin because His Son took your place. 

This worked reminded me that I have a very limited view of God’s holiness and of my sin. Paul reminds that the more I grow in my Christian life, the more I grow in my awareness of God’s holiness and of my flesh and sinfulness. Reinforcing consistent Bible reading, experiencing the Holy Spirit’s conviction, and living in community with other people, the extent of God’s greatness and the extent of my sin become increasingly clear and vivid. I was reminded that I will only rest in Christ when I am increasingly seeing God as He actually is (Isaiah 55:8-9) and myself as I actually am (Jeremiah 17:9-10).

This audio was interesting, challenging, inspiring, and redemptive for me.  Paul’s end of chapter heart questions were quite helpful, convicting, and great prayer topics.  The Father and I had some good discussions and you will too.  As per usual, Paul Tripp holds your attention, presents the topic in a cohesive appealing and sitting right next to you, personable manner.  Saturated in Biblical truth I found this to be a quite refreshing fountain much needed for my bitter heart.  My pastor and I are meeting this week, so I we can discuss the implications of this work in our lives (yes, I got copies for my pastors and you should too).  Over breakfast next week, he and I will continue the conversation of the Dangerous Calling.  I recommend that cases of this book appear at the end of the graduation stage of every bible college and seminary and be handed to each graduate, it may just touch a few lives.  In my story, I still have not arrived, but this work was right on time, on the stage of what I call my life and I cannot recommend it more highly…to everyone.

The Explicit Gospel–by Matt Chandler & Jared Wilson(Audiobook Review)

02/05/2012 Comments off

Thank you christianaudio reviewers program for the opportunity to review this work, a blessing indeed!

In a culture of moral relativism, Christians have been spiraling into another worldview, that of “moral therapeutic deism,” Matt Chandler, new president of Acts29, thoroughly covers the biblical meaning of the explicit gospel confronting this ‘new’ Christianity.

The audiobook is divided into three parts, "The Gospel on the Ground" (which covers God, man, Christ and response or systematic theology topics) which refers to the gospel as it applies to specific individuals. The second part, "The Gospel in the Air," (discussed through the lens of creation, fall, redemption and consummation or biblical theology) which seeks to reveal that these individual salvation stories are part of God’s sovereign plan to bring all things to consummation in Christ. The "explicit gospel" holds these two perspectives together as mutually interwoven and complementary.  Finally, the book continues with applications and implications (what does this look like both bad and good).

I have been listening to Matt Chandler for a few years, so I was very excited with the opportunity to listen to this audio.  The gospel is always interesting to me, and Matt’s illustrations, humor, and contextual couth language brings the explicit to sobering reality.  This book was and will be very challenging to those who who think heaven is like in tom-n-jerry, or even warm-n-fuzzy prosperity.  This book will inspire too, in that, there is more to the gospel than doing stuff (going to church, reading the bible, etc.) it is about a savior who died.  The implications of fully understanding this, is what is explicit compared to the vague gospel so rampant in many churches today.   As I was listening to this, I was thinking about folks who would benefit from this.  Does your theology include loving God with all your mind?  Does God hold your attention?  Then this audio, to include the narrator, presented this work in an cohesive, yet appealing manner.  I also appreciated that Matt and Jared saturated this work successfully to convey deep Biblical truth in easy to understand language.  I would highly recommend this book to all, especially to those who have been ‘Christians’ for a while.  This audio would also be good for a new believer in that it might prevent the performance based routine of faith that many of us get into when we forget the gospel.

Worship: The Ultimate Priority–John MacArthur Revised Audiobook

08/03/2012 Comments off

Of course, this review was not possible without the generous investment in me by the christianaudio Reviewers Program.  Thank you.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For He is our God,
and we are the people of His pasture,
and the sheep of His hand.
Today, if you hear His voice,

If your desire is to listen to His voice; He knows us, and we get to follow Him. He gives us eternal life, and we shall never perish; as no one can snatch us out of His hand.  John MacArthur reminds us in the newly revised edition of classic work that Worship is the ultimate priority.

I remember my first Shepherds Conference and the sessions on Worship.  I was again struck with this audiobook of the great disciple of Christ that continues to be an evidence of God’s grace through John’s investment in the Body of Christ.  The two new chapters and the revisions in the foundational work are truly saturated as always, in scripture.  The Bible is the final authority of this work.  John guides us into understanding God’s perspective on the spectrum of our current ‘worship services’ to a Pink-like attributes of God systematic theology.

The audiobook was very interesting to me as it challenged me, inspired me, and enlightened me on how selfish I am in my interactions with God.  John has continued for fifteen years of my walk to exhort me to meditate and focus my life on the Living Word of God.  John keeps me focused on God and Scripture and the narrator’s voice was an excellent compliment to this work.  The book was obviously presented in John’s classic style of cohesiveness and appealing manner while not compromising solid Biblical Truth.  I would recommend this book for general audiences of all kinds, as most of it is Scripture – timeless and multi-generational.

402158: Worship: The Ultimate Priority Worship: The Ultimate Priority
By John MacArthur / Moody Publishers* How can we best glorify God? By making worship a priority! Taking you beyond church walls into the recesses of your heart, MacArthur explores the attributes of God, the right and wrong ways to worship him, and ideas on how to honor him in our daily lives. This revised edition includes two new chapters.

Real Marriage The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together–Mark & Grace Driscoll, Audiobook review

02/01/2012 2 comments

Thank you to christianaudio.com Reviewer Program for pre-release review of this work.

Depending on what circles your in, Mark Driscoll is sure to create a reaction – despite controversy however, many evangelicals acknowledge respectfully, and affirm Mark’s ministry and call.  With Mark you can be assured of a shock factor, and in our culture today of 140 characters or less, smartphones and anti-intellectualism, people don’t stop long enough to meditate on life and Mark & Grace remind us again, this time in the biblical context of a covenant marriage

What I appreciate about Mark’s ministry is that he/they comes out swinging, and in the ‘Preface’ he does it with “How Not to Read This book” -  addressing the sin we bring to marriage books/materials sometimes. It reminded me of the many times I read something in a marriage book and highlighted it so when I passed it onto Connie she would ‘get’ the gentle nudge of the ‘holy spirit highlighter’ and make a change. With the controversy over this book and series, he also addresses an area I don’t see quoted – “If your reading this book to feed your sexual perversion, then don’t read it” which probably would have knocked out 75% of the reviews I have read. 

This book was timely, interesting, and was very convicting in especially the first six chapters.  Connie and I had some great discussions generated by this material, and after my second listen, I will be passing it along to marriages that I think could benefit as well.  It did challenge, inspire, and enlighten me in ways that I was NOT loving my wife, which is a good reminder as I find the tendency sometimes to have an ‘I already know that…pride’ when coming to discipleship materials.  The Driscoll’s also made me think about the continued importance of having Connie with me in marriage discipleship sessions and giving her more shared teaching moments to assist men to love their wives. 

As always, Mark holds your attention and the information was presented in a cohesive, yet appealing manner, with real language and speaking about the elephants in the room, something I appreciate about Mark’s ministry and call.  I am also strongly convinced that the Driscoll’s successfully conveyed Biblical truth, however references to the 5 Love Languages and Arteburn’s work were not helpful when there is better biblical material out there to drive home the same points without giving us tasks, check boxes, or psychobabble.  I would recommend this book to others and will, in all forms to serve the audiences that Connie and regularly interact in.

Another fantastic review of this work can be found here, and some further marriage resources can be found at;

  1. Biblical Counselor Newsletter (Marriage & Parenting)
  2. CCEF Resources
  3. Peacemaker Ministries
203833: Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, & Life Together Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, & Life Together
By Mark & Grace Driscoll / Thomas Nelson

God has a lot to say on the topic of sex and marriage. He planned both and gave them to us to be enjoyed. In Real Marriage, Mark and Grace Driscoll share biblical truths on issues you may be facing. They discuss how to be your spouse’s best friend, porn addiction, sexual assault, becoming an unselfish lover, and many sex questions you might be embarrassed to ask anyone. Hardcover.

Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus–Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson — Audiobook Review

25/12/2011 Comments off

Thank you Christianaudio.com Reviewers Program for the opportunity to review this book!

Do you really need another Christian Parenting book and is your parenting really Christian?

Elyse and Jessica evaluate their work by this scathing statement and even get bold enough to state that the best parenting book is the Bible, then why another one you ask?  Because many of them teach parents how to train up their children to be either Pharisees or Prodigals.  That is all about to change when Mother and Daughter describe how to parent with grace and an emphasis on the Cross.

As a biblical counselor I see many Christian parents, in their desire to raise godly children, lean toward rule-centered discipline. There is, however, a far more effective method–a gospel-centered, grace-motivated approach that begins with the glorious truth of God’s love for sinners.

In Give Them Grace, parents will learn how to connect the benefits of the cross–especially regeneration, adoption, and justification–to their children’s daily lives. Chapters address topics such as our inability to follow the law perfectly, God’s forgiveness and love displayed at the cross, and what true heart obedience looks like. Fitzpatrick and Thompson also discuss discipline, dealing with popular culture, and evangelism as a way of life. Parents will find this book a great resource for raising grace-filled, Jesus-loving kids.

This was an exemplary and very interesting work, even now as kids have all grown and we are now interacting with grandchildren.  It challenged, inspired, and enlighten me to remember the gospel first for myself, and the benefits of making time in the moment with children.  Something not normally considered in the life of parenting or grand parenting.  The author(s) made me think about the ‘rules’ we have for the grandkids when they come over;

  1. No whining or complaining.
  2. Ask before you do anything.
  3. An adult will only ask you once.
  4. No tattle telling.
    In putting these through the grid, I see that every time we address these areas we get a chance to share the gospel with them, and it has been amazing to see the gospel of grace walked out as ages 5-10 respond differently to the same message.  I was made aware too, how these same ‘rules’ can can tend toward rule-centered discipline and I need to be cautious of that.  I thought the author(s) did a great job of holding my attention attention and the audio narrator even did a fantastic job of singing beautifully some of the songs in the book as well.  Elyse and Jessica presented gospel centered parenting information in a cohesive, yet appealing manner.  Even the appendixes were fantastic, especially the gospel story to share with kids!  It goes without saying that

NANC

    counselor Elyse successfully conveys Biblical truth and ensures that the Bible is the final authority for all matters of parenting.  I highly recommend this book to any parents and grandparents who desire to supplement their Bible reading with gospel-centered application.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Psalm 127:3-5 http://www.esvapi.org/assets/play.swf?myUrl=hw%2F19127003-19127005(ESV)

If My Body is a Temple, Then I Was a Megachurch by Scott Davis

13/09/2011 Comments off

Loose weight without exercise?  Laugh my way to weight loss?  This sounds like my kind of plan!   Maybe my story is like yours.  I have struggled with my weight since my car accident in 1994.  Before that I was actively involved with martials arts (7x a week) and I could eat whatever I wanted.  When the accident fused L4-L5, I no longer could do the things I could do physically any longer, and had to say goodbye to a military career and my dreams of becoming a martial artist.  Things continued to grow however, and my weight was one of them. 

This audiobook was quite interesting in that Scott Davis has a FANTASTIC sense of humor, and uncomfortably, much of his transparency was/is many of the things I think about myself, others, and my weight.  This audio challenged me to revisit my weight issue even though I have become frustrated with my weight issue.  I was convicted with his sober challenge to men regarding setting the tone for good eating and health in the home.  I was so convicted of this, that my wife is not listening to the audios as well.  We both are going to laugh our way to health as well.  The author inspired, challenged, and enlightened me that  there was hope to conquer this struggle I have been having.  Scott Davis had NO PROBLEM holding my attention and I know he will enthrall you as well.  His steps were presented in a cohesive and appealing manner so that I was so intrigued, that I looked up ‘QLWC’ and discovered there are NONE in my area and the online form for the home program is only for the Atlanta area.   I am hoping that after my wife listens to the audio (and a billion other people listen to the audio) that there will be more locations or they will remove the Atlanta location stipulation and make the resources available to those who are interested but don’t live in Atlanta! Scott does a great job of successfully conveying Biblical truth, and I would highly recommend this book to others.  I am looking forward to hearing Connie’s thoughts on her listen too.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the christianaudio.com reviewers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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